Humor / On Writing / The English Teacher / Uncategorized

Stormy Weather

“Expect the unexpected.” Life proves the adage. Literature proves it as well, because, as we all should know by now, written words mirror the way life goes. And so it was, that on a sultry Wednesday in late August, I went to my AP Lit class, ready to discuss Kate Chopin’s lovely (and aptly titled!) “The Storm.”
If you’re familiar with the story, you might well ask why, of all the great short stories in the world, would I be reading a saucy little tale of afternoon infidelity with high schoolers? My answer might be
a. The story offers an exquisite pairing of setting and plot
b. The story offers a way out of reading The Awakening by the same author, thereby satisfying a required coverage of important literary contributors of years gone by, without suffering the agonies of Edna Pontellier.
c. The story is included in the textbook and I figured, ‘why not?’
d. ‘a’ and ‘b’ only.
Answer — Yes. (just a taste, and a poor one at that, at AP multiple choice Qs…)
At any rate, back to my story — and I do have one.
There we were, discussing the white sheets that Calixta had been sewing as dark clouds swirled about when we noted a darkening sky just outside our own windows. A blaring alarm announced either a storm drill or the real thing, and we abandoned our books, heading for the shelter of a basement safe place, where we spent the next 90 minutes or so, while not one, but two separate tornado warnings kept us from studying a literary storm as we waited out a real one.
Sidenote: Our high schoolers currently meet in beautiful classrooms in a church while we await the construction of a brand new high school building that we will occupy next school year. The Early Childhood department of our school is also, and more permanently, housed in the same church building. Pre-schoolers and high school juniors and seniors and the teachers responsible for all of these congregated in the same space. For 90 minutes. Suffice it to say, the littlest ones played with fewer assembled toys than the eldest ones. Hmmmmmm……..
By the time we were finally able to release students, the school day dismissal time had come and gone. My AP Lit students returned to our classroom only to gather up notebooks and pens and other educational whatnot, unharmed by any foul weather and mostly uninstructed on the intricacies of Chopin’s story. A few stray comments about storms and “The Storm” hung in the air – (insert guffaw here), and we acknowledged that figuratively speaking, ‘the storm’ had served us well.
I swore off Chopin’s story yesterday. Sure it ends with “and everyone was happy.” But I’m not taking any chances.


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